Throughout my entire career as a student, I have always managed to get good grades without really trying. However, when the time finally did come for me to need a cultural informant, it wasn’t recent, but awhile back ago. Let me take you back to freshman year of high school. I just recently moved back to Colorado from living in Texas, and not only was I entering a different level of education, I was also going to bump into people I knew back in elementary school. I was nervous to say the least, but I wasn’t too worried about the curriculum and even enrolled in an English AP class. The summer book list I got a month before should have warned me that it was going to be difficult. The bindings alone were two inches thick, but I was stubborn (still am) and tried to read them. It turns out that I didn’t have trouble with the content, rather it was my writing that needed work. When I received my paper back for the first time I saw only a river of red tears streak across my paper as well as the “see me after class” note at the end. I felt like someone pulled the world right underneath my feet for the first time. I never even had a real interest in English back then.
My cultural informant turned out to be the same English teacher who marked up my paper so brutally. Despite the initial shock that made me question myself as good student, I met up with him and he tutored me during lunch periods every other day. He would ask questions and go over what I found most frustrating with my writing. I didn’t think his questions would help me out at all, in fact if anything, it made me question myself even more because he was easily picking out the flaws in my writing even I couldn’t see at second glance. However, as I continued to go to him, I noticed that my writing had indeed improved and while I wrote my papers, I would ask myself the same questions he would ask me. What was my evidence? My thesis? Did I make a clear transition at this point? By December, I was able to write better than I had before and I would only have one or two green marks (he ran out of red ink pens) on my paper.
I think everyone has had a teacher who completely shredded their papers to pieces, but there are also some people who haven’t had the encouraging teacher-tutor as I did. I want to share a similar experience with others who had felt that they were doing right until they didn’t feel that solid ground beneath their feet. The articles that we have been reading in class highlighted some of the best learning techniques that my teacher did for me. Asking questions, listening to concerns, providing advice here and there, and letting the student learn on their own rather than telling them what to do to get a better grade makes tutoring about writing a lasting experience.